SAN JOAQUIN KIT FOX DEMOGRAPHIC AND ECOLOGICAL ATTRIBUTES IN THE CARRIZO PLAIN CORE AREA HIGHLIGHT LOCAL AND RANGE-WIDE VARIATION.
Tory L. Westall; CSU-Stanislaus, Endangered Species Recovery; One University Circle, Turlock, CA, 95382; (661) 835-7810; twestall@esrp.csustan.edu; Brian Cypher, Erica Kelly, Christine Van Horn Job, Larry Saslaw, Abigail Gwinn
Endangered San Joaquin kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis mutica) persist as a metapopulation consisting of three core and several satellite populations. We investigated demographic and ecological attributes of kit foxes in the Carrizo Plain core area during 2016, a year of lower food availability, and during 2018, a year of higher food availability. The mortality rate in 2018 was less than half that for 2016 and was the lowest rate recorded among populations throughout the range. Reproductive success was markedly higher in 2018. Home range and core area sizes in 2018 were approximately one-third of those in 2016 and were the smallest recorded among populations throughout the range. In the Carrizo Plain core area, Heteromyid rodents and invertebrates were the primary dietary items, and specialization on kangaroo rats increased with increasing abundance of this resource. Results from this and previous studies emphasize that demographic and ecological attributes can vary markedly and rapidly in a given location with climate-driven variation in resource availability. Furthermore, the attributes we observed are consistent with the presence of high quality habitat in core areas and the patterns we observed highlight the importance of conserving such habitat to help buffer against stochastic processes.
The Anthropocene: Decline & Extinction II